The nephew of U.S. Rep. Judy Chu committed suicide in Afghanistan shortly after being hazed by his fellow Marines, according to an investigative report published yesterday by the Marine Corps Times.
Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, 21, died on April 3 but the Defense Department did not disclose details surrounding the circumstances of his death when they released the news the following day, merely saying he died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.
The Marine Corps Times reported that Lew was hazed by two fellow Marines after he fell asleep in a foxhole while on guard duty.
The report outlines an incident at Patrol Base Gowragi, in Nawa district, that escalated over several hours. It began with Lew not responding to calls on his radio about 11:15 p.m. on April 2. A sergeant found him sleeping in a fighting hole, and told other lance corporals that “peers should correct peers,” without providing specific instruction, the report said.
Two other lance corporals, whose names are redacted from the report, pulled Lew from the fighting hole by his helmet at about 11:30 p.m. and berated him for falling asleep, the report said. Over the next four hours, they berated him repeatedly and ordered him to do pushups, crunches and other exercises while he was wearing his body armor, according to the investigation. One of the Marines stomped on his leg repeatedly when he “failed to do an exercise properly,” the report said.
Eventually, one of the Marines assaulted Lew again at about 3:05 a.m., according to the investigation. The lance corporal kicked dirt on Lew, kicked him and punched him before being stopped by another Marine, the report said.
Lew killed himself while alone in the fighting hole within the hour.
“May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I’m sorry my mom deserves the truth,” a message found on Lew’s arm said, according to the Marine Corps Times.
One Marine is facing a court martial while the other faces non-judicial punishment.
Lew was a 2008 graduate of Santa Clara High School in California and joined the Marines Corps in August 2009.
Lew’s Chinese immigrant parents were shocked when he told them he was joining the U.S. military, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The 19-year-old, their only son, had just started college; he had told them he wanted to become an animation designer.
“I tried to stop him, I told him the military is very dangerous,” said his father, Allen Lew, who runs a trade show exhibit business in the Santa Clara County community of San Martin. “He just told us he wanted to serve his country.”